Banker and tobacco businessman Horacio Cartes will be the presidential candidate of Paraguay’s main opposition party, Colorado, for the April 2013 elections having won last Sunday the primary election with almost 60% of the vote.
Cartes finally obtained 497.250 votes (59.6%) and will the candidate of the historic Colorado party that has dominated the country’s politics for over six decades and only lost in 2008 to a catch-all coalition following deep internal divisions.
Solicitor Javier Zacaría Irún with 279.745 votes (33.5%) was runner up, according to the party’s Electoral Tribunal. He admitted defeat and pledged full support for the party’s unity and the winner.
The turnout at the primary reached 45.1% of registered votes in the Colorado party.
Cartes who became a member of the party in September 2009 and a year later created the “Colorado Honour” grouping is described by some other political groups as a relevant member of the “narco-colorado”, an organization allegedly linked to the drugs business but which the candidate has strongly denied on several occasions.
The Colorado party lost its 61 year of uninterrupted hegemony on April 2008 when former bishop Fernando Lugo was elected president by a catch-all coalition which rapidly evaporated leaving him exposed and limited in his legislative agenda since he lacked the necessary support in Parliament.
Last June following a shootout between the police and peasants while evicting ‘landless’ militants from a farm with 17 people killed, Lugo faced impeachment in the Senate and was rapidly removed and replaced by his Vice-president Federico Franco.
Mercosur and Unasur protested his quick removal and suspended Paraguay from the two regional blocks until April 2013 elections.
If the Colorado party manages to unite under candidate Cartes and given their formidable political machine it can be expected that he will succeed Franco in office.